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YOBAC empowers refugees with vocational and language skills for entrepreneurship to sustain themselves in the tangled life of refugee status

Photo of Albert djuma
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What problem does the idea help to solve and how does your solution work? (2,000 characters maximum)

The problem, which the idea will help to solve, is unemployment and poverty in both the refugee settlement and the host community surrounding Kyangwali Refugee Settlement, Hoima District, Uganda. The settlement is home to more than 145,000 refugees of which 63% where under 18. By the time we, as refugees, reached the refugee camp, we had faced many problems such as poverty, unemployment and drug abuse, because we had left all our belongings in our countries affected by conflict. This is when I and other young people thought of starting Youth Organisation For Building African Community (YOBAC) with the aim of empowering youth with tailoring, carpentry, soap making and language skills in English and later creating jobs for ourselves to contribute to the solution of unemployment and poverty in the refugee community. The members of our organization and those we support had fled conflict in their countries including the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan. A UNHCR monitoring visit in July 2018 identified the lack of income generation opportunities as one of the key Challenges facing the community. This lack of economic opportunities is due to a lack of employment opportunities, lack of land for agricultural purposes, limited income generating activities,lack of access to credit to start small businesses and a lack of vocational training. YOBAC seeks to solve these issues by establishing a vocational training center to continue and increase our provision of vocational training and language classes to support young refugees to support themselves thus gaining their independence and a sense of hope in the future.

Geography of focus (500 characters)

The project targets refugees from Kyangwali Refugee settlement located in Western Uganda, Hoima district, aged between 15-35. The refugees living in this settlement have suffered war in their home countries of Sudan, the DRC and Burundi. In being forced to leave their own countries they are reliant on humanitarian support and are not able to envisage a secure future. They have had their education disrupted but are eager to learn and support themselves.

Building Bridges: What bridge does your idea build between people on the move and neighbors towards a shared future of stability and promise? (500 characters)

YOBAC build bridges in different ways. First between refugees on the move, themselves through building a network of refugees from different cultural backgrounds to support each other to solve our shared problems. Second between refugees and host community to create collaboration by sharing opportunities and market services. Third between UNHCR and the local government to make sure, there is strong security and protection of our resources by working together on community improvement.

What human need is your idea solving for? (1,000 characters)

YOBAC is solving the needs of well being and self-sustainability. After engaging refugees with entrepreneurial leadership skills, they start their own businesses. Some start carpentry-workshops; others start basket-weaving and soap-making businesses. These activities help them to earn some money for their needs like food, education for their children, clothes and many other practical things. In addition to being able to meet their basic needs they also gain a sense of empowerment through becoming self-reliant, increasing their sense of self-worth, In making their own money they are able to make more decisions about their life and their future. Through the small groups that are formed as part of the training the refugees are also able to build a stronger social network in their new home, which increases the time they spend with others. These groups also help each other through shared challenges and memories of the past restoring a sense of community and hope.

What will be different within the community of focus as a result of implementing your idea? (1,000 characters)

YOBAC supports refugees to learn skills and later they put these skills into action by creating job for themselves and this contributes to reducing poverty and unemployment in the refugee settlement. The refugees face a number of challenges in relation to finding opportunities to generate their own income. The first is that many have not been able to finish school in their home country due to conflict. As there are limited employment opportunities many refugees are keen to start their own business. YOBAC provides training in vocational skills in areas that have been assessed as being good business opportunities. We also offer business development training so that the refugees know how to manage their business successfully. Finally, we also offer language classes, which are crucial for those from French speaking countries to be able to sell within the English speaking market of Uganda.

What is the inspiration behind your idea? (1,000 characters)

The inspiration behind this idea is the YOBAC team’s personal experience themselves as refugees and from living in the settlement and facing the same challenges as the rest of the community. By providing skills and business support we will be meeting one of the key areas of community need – ensuring they have enough funds to support themselves with both their basic needs and increasing the self-development of the community. The settlement and the surrounding community are facing numerous challenges in terms of accessing adequate healthcare, education, nutritional food, as well as activities and social connection which can bring them together and allow positive thoughts of the future to be given space in their busy and challenging lives. Therefore working on reducing poverty and reliance on humanitarian support can have ripple effects on the lives of many in the community both in the short and long term.

Describe the dynamics of the community in which the idea is to be implemented. (1,000 characters)

Kyangwali camp It is located in Western Uganda near the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo. Given its location, Congolese refugees make up the majority of the population but they are also refugees fr Burundi, South Sudan and Kenya. Kyangwali refugee camp has a population of more than 145,000 people from different countries, they do not have income generating skills, and instead they only depend on World Food Program for survival. Many of them are illiterate and have not had experience in entrepreneurial leadership skills; they are victims of political instability in their home countries, and wish to be able to make small income generating activities for self-sustainability. YOBAC currently delivers vocational and social enterprise training for youth from the settlement and the local host community, supporting participants from idea to action.

How does your idea leverage and empower community strengths and assets to help create an environment for success? (1,000 characters)

Our idea empowers the community by training youth who dropped out the school and those who did not get opportunities to continue with further studies with vocational skills, which helped them to create job for themselves and for the entire community to sustain themselves. The community is rich in skills and resources as it is made up of refugees from several different countries with a wide range of skills and experience. So far, YOBAC has leveraged these skills to start the organization and bring different groups together to support each other. For example, an all-female group has been set up for victims of the conflict who can support each other through shared experience and give each other hope for the future. The local host community also has skills and experience of the area to support the refugees. Finally there are also several refugees and organizations who come from outside the community to add in skills and support with training.

What other partners or stakeholders will work alongside you in implementing the idea, if any? (1,000 characters)

YOBAC has worked with Idea4Africa and The Office of the Prime minister (O.P.M) in different projects for the improvement and self-sustainability of the refugee in Kyangwali refugee settlement. Idea4Africa have been working with us to provide regular trainings in leadership entrepreneurship and the OPM has given the organization land to build a vocational training Center, having seen the clear need and impact of the training we have been providing so far. We are looking forward to partnering with UNHCR and Hope Roy Refugee Education and others, which will welcome our request of partnership.

What part of the displacement journey is your solution addressing

  • Being on the move, crossing borders, and/or temporarily settled

Tell us how you'd describe the type of innovation you are proposing

  • Systems design: Solutions that target changing larger system

Idea Proposal Stage

  • Pilot: We have started to implement the idea as a whole with a first set of real users. The feasibility of an innovation is tested in a small-scale and real world application (i.e. 3-15% of the target population)

Group or Organization Name


Tell us more about your group or organization [or lived experience as a displaced person?] (1000 characters)

YOBAC is a voluntary based non-profit organization established by refugee youth living in Kyangwali refugee settlement in 2016. Based on our experience of conflict in our home countries, our individual challenging journeys to reach the settlement and the problems we experienced upon arrival we came together to start an organization that we hope can work with children and youth affected by conflict to solve their immediate challenges and help them find hope again. As an organization, we are committed to ensuring the refugee children, youth around them will reach their potential through training, and skills, that give them opportunities to earn their own income, reduce poverty and reliance on aid and find more fulfillment in their lives.

Website URL:

Type of submitter

  • We are a registered Non-Profit Organization

Organization Headquarters: Country


Organization Headquarters: City / State



Join the conversation:

Photo of NDEF Cameroon

Hello Albert djuma, we at NDEF Cameroon have read with interest your idea striving to relieve human suffering in Uganda

We feel that you could adopt agroforestry practices to better deliver a package encompassing food crops, tree crops and small livestock with man at the centre. A juxtaposition of these components would lead to symbiotic relationships with mutual benefits. Food crops would provide short term benefits; small ruminants would provide benefits in the medium term while tree crops would provide benefits in the long term. Useful trees serve as the farmers’ insurance cover (pension).
On tree planting still, you could adopt vegetative propagation techniques such as grafting and air-layering to produce fruit tree seedlings which deliver fruits in two to three years after planting. In this way, young persons (who are often not patient enough to wait for a long time) will get results of their agribusinesses sooner than later. Nkeng Pius (Executive Director)

Photo of Albert djuma

Hello,NDEF and the all team !
Thank you for your feedback towards our Idea, it is really a good approach.
However here in the settlement we have land shortage as a challenge, the refugee camp is 142 scared km and more than 145000 individuals are located on this land also many more they are still coming , so we do not have land to use for agricultural activities.
The Only option we are using is training youth in different skills using our vocation center where by after acquiring skills refugee open up craft shops, business,and carpentry shops to create a sustainable living in the refugee camp.
With Love,
Albert Juma the E.D

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